Fashion Design Giannulli and Wife Plead Not Guilty in College-Bribery Scandal

Los Angeles fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli and his wife, who were named in a federal indictment accusing wealthy individuals of paying bribes to get their children into prestigious universities, pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from that case.

Giannulli and his actress/wife, Lori Loughlin, did not appear in U.S. District Court in Boston where the pleas were entered on Monday, April 15, by their attorney.

The charges come from a federal criminal complaint unsealed on March 12, which accused 13 coaches, 33 parents and various academic test givers of being involved in a scheme to get under-performing students into elite schools across the country.

The indictment, which covers activity that started in 2011, included accusations of bribes to get students into Yale University, Stanford University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and Georgetown University. Sometimes bribes were paid to test-takers to help students cheat on entrance exams or to test givers who gave students answers to the tests or even corrected their incorrect answers afterward, court files revealed.

Giannulli and his wife are accused of paying $500,000 to get their two daughters – Isabella Rose and Olivia Jade – into the University of Southern California by being designated as recruits to the USC crew team even though they did not participate in crew, court documents said.

Giannulli and Loughlin, along with other parents, were initially charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. On April 9, an additional charge of fraud and money laundering was filed against Giannulli and Loughlin and 14 other parents involved in the case.

The money-laundering charge comes from contributions the parents made to a nonprofit run by William “Rick” Skinner, accused of masterminding the college bribery scandal that used $25 million to get students into top-notch colleges.

Skinner’s nonprofit, called the Key Worldwide Foundation, headquartered in Newport Beach, Calif., allegedly used donated funds from the parents to pay off athletic directors to recruit some of the students for their teams and to pay test takers to help students improve their scores.

Many of the parents deducted their Key Worldwide Foundation contributions on their federal tax forms.